Odd couple

New Age woos new money.

PRETTILY WRAPPED in crocheted scarves and gauzy long skirts, Charlize Theron portrays the quintessential cover girl of California spirituality. Equal parts Deepak Chopra and Malibu Barbie, Sara lives above a secondhand bookstore in San Francisco, rescues unwanted dogs, and cooks organic meals in a kitchen decorated with pictures of Hindu goddesses. With wholesome goodness to spare, she offers to help a complete stranger, hardened advertising executive Nelson (Keanu Reeves), get in touch with his feelings—and her braless figure. "Live with me for just a month," she says.

SWEET NOVEMBER

directed by Pat O'Connor with Keanu Reeves, Charlize Theron, Jason Isaacs, and Greg Germann opens February 16 at Metro, Oak Tree, and Pacific Place

This nutty premise is actually taken from a 1968 Anthony Newley/Sandy Dennis picture of the same name. The original was no classic, and neither is this version, which features characters as believable as figures in a martini ad. Workaholic Nelson's only downtime is running on his treadmill in front of 10 television screens, all tuned to different programs. With his shirt off, Reeves makes a fine Mr. November, and it's not long before he becomes a fixture in Sara's apartment.

November's appeal depends mostly on Theron, who's winsome enough to carry the first half of this romantic trifle. But when the glow of her cheeks fades, so does the movie, which gets far too serious for its own good.

What we're left to appreciate is how Sara represents old San Francisco—the sort of bohemian mecca portrayed by Armistead Maupin—and her doomed relationship with flashy, loft-owning Nelson should be taken as a tale of the city. This being San Fran, Sara's best friend is naturally a party-loving transvestite (The Patriot's sneering redcoat villain Jason Isaacs). Meanwhile, Nelson's own compatriots are Ally McBeal's Greg Germann, who scoffs at grungy coffee-houses, and Frank Langella, who dismisses quality of life and paternal leave as "New Age crap." When Sara asks Nelson to live with her, she's really posing a question for today's bohemians and yuppies—can we all just get along?

sim@seattleweekly.com

 
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